Found a new rock loaded with Red Emperor – Fraser Island May 2016

With the year flying past, it’s easy to get frustrated with the lack of fishing trips due to work and family commitments not to mention the weather. Trying to make all the stars align can seem almost impossible at times but keeping a keen eye on the weather and doing what you need to do in order to make trips happen is a must. 

I’m a firm believer that you need to make your own opportunities, and too often fishermen stuff around and can’t make a decision while they wait for that perfect time for all stars to align. This will limit your time on the water which is the key to learning and creating those important fishing opportunities. No doubt at times you wish you never went out, but that’s fishing and everyone experiences the disappointment that comes with it. Other times you will be rewarded with great fishing or simply gain valuable knowledge that will turn you into a far better angler. 

I did exactly this recently when I missed a lot of good weather due to various commitments but with a small window opening up that would allow me to fish for a full day and the following morning, I jumped at the chance. It was a couple days before the full moon which wasn’t ideal particularly for day time fishing and I was also told that the current was roaring out wide. It seemed we had everything going against us but like I’ve proven before nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to fishing and anything can happen so take any opportunity you can get.

This trip I asked legend fisherman Troy Dixon and Clint Fannin from Wilson to join my Dad and I. As we headed out through a dead flat wide bay bar, the boys were excited and very keen to catch some good fish. I checked a few spots on the way out but there was very little life showing so we kept pushing wider to target some red emperor. The first spot didn’t have the fish show i was hoping for and after several drifts and only a couple hussar landed I eventually caught the first red. Although it was only a school sized one it’s always a relief to get the “monkey off the back”

I moved to another location and once again the fishing was slow but at the end of the second or third drift I picked up a beautiful coronation trout to lift our spirits. If prior spots were any indication, then it was looking like the fishing was going to be tough and I would have to find something pretty special to produce some decent fish. I had found a new rock on a prior trip that had produced some nice reds so I had high hopes this spot would produce the goods otherwise I would be once again spending endless hours searching for new ground.

As I headed in the direction of this spot the Furuno 295 and 588 picked up a new rock covered in fish life. I quickly turned the boat around and sounded back over the rock to discover that it had an awesome show of big fish on it and what fishing dreams are made of. I kept my cool and casually said to the boys “wow I like the look of this” but inside i was doing air punches with excitement.

With the current running fairly hard I positioned the boat well forward of the rock and told the boys to drop. We had a variety of rigs and baits being dropped down and soon as the boys hit bottom they were instantly smashed with big fish. Due to positioning the boat correctly I was last to drop down but like the others my bait was inhaled in an instant and we were all battling big fish. Now it’s worth mentioning that Clint who is the head rod builder at Wilson had never caught a legal red before so to see the look on his face when a red around 9-10kg hit the surface was priceless. Both Dad and I soon followed with even bigger reds around 11-12kg but unfortunately Troy pulled the hooks on his fish midway up which was purely bad luck and no fault of his own.

Now when it comes to red emperor fishing you ideally don’t want to be dropping fish as this often puts the other fish off bite. At times dropping fish can be due to tackle failure, poor angler skills or simply bad luck.  Either way doing your best to reduce this from happening is the key. Use strong quality tackle, know the limits of what your tackle your using, don’t go excessively hard on reds unless its required (i.e large structure with strong currents), ensure hook points are well exposed in the bait for easy penetration and also give the fish a bit of time to eat the bait so the hooks are further inside the mouth which reduces the chances of missing the fish on the strike and pulling hooks out of the lip area.

Now although I have found small schools of reds (2-5 fish) to stop biting after a dropped fish I’ve also found in the past that when I’ve hit big schools of red emperor that they will fight for the baits and dropping a fish won’t put them off at all. I’ve even caught a fish with my mate’s hooks in it from 5 minutes prior so having seen the amount of red emperor the sounder was showing on this spot I was pretty confident these fish wouldn’t shut down.

After taking some pics I headed back for another drift and this time we all put big fillets of mac tuna on which we had caught on the way out. It’s a nice oily bloody flesh and not only is it great bait but also acts as brilliant burly as the fish shake it to pieces when hooked. Once again when the baits hit bottom we were all smashed instantly, the rods buckled over, drags screamed and everyone was having an absolute blast with smiles all round.

I was using the lighter longer softer tapered 6”6 PE2-5 venom rod with a PE5 jigging master reel which is beautifully balance and very light. I’ve found this combo excellent on the trout and red throat in the Bunker Group shallows but it also has enough grunt in the mid to lower end of the rod to pull big fish when required.

The fish I had on wasn’t in any hurry to give up and before long a beautiful red over 13.5kg hit the surface and was safely netted. I quickly put the rod down and raced over to the other side of the boat to grab Dads red of about 12.5kg that had hit the surface moments after mine.  There were reds coming over the side left right centre. This is what fishing is all about and having beautiful big reds flopping around on the deck is a rewarding sight to be seen.

After a few 3 and 4 way hook ups, both Troy and I went to our 18 and 22lb light tackle venom spin outfits for a bit of fun. Troy went the bait option while I went a 5 inch Zerek flat shad plastic on a 2 ½ oz jighead.  It wasn’t long before both Troy and I hooked up and had the venom rods bent over and line screaming off the ATC reels. We were both having a great laugh all while Clint was buckled over on a very solid fish that was making him work for it.  Looking down in the deep blue I could see Clints fish coming up and a cracking 13kg red hit the surface and was quickly netted. For a bloke who hadn’t even caught a red an hour or so beforehand he was certainly introduced into some the best red fishing you could experience.

Troy and I also landed our reds which is always satisfying when fishing with light tackle and makes for something challenging and different. With a few more reds caught and more than enough in the esky we started letting them go and decided it was time to move away and fish for some other species.  I headed for some larger reefs to target some red throat and other bottom dwelling speedsters but after only catching one fish the sharks starting taking every so we moved to another area. The next spot I caught a nice Amberjack while Troy pulled a solid Spangled emperor. With the day getting on and no reason to stay outwide we headed in close to Double Island Point for the night with the plan to chase some Pearl Perch. The next morning we fished from rock to rock catching the odd nice Pearl Perch, moses perch and maori cod. Clint also nailed another nice red which we let go to fight another day.

When I reflect on this trip, there’s one major key point that made this trip successful. And that’s having a good sounder and transducer set up that allows me to read the bottom clearly at speed and find new ground that holds trophy fish. Without this key element I simply wouldn’t go offshore to fish as 95% of my spots are found at speed while travelling between areas and also  while searching. The faster I can sound, the greater distance I cover, and the more spots I’m likely to find. It’s that simple.

While on the subject of sounders, I’ve been running the new Furuno FCV-588 with a 600w thru hull transducer and Furuno FCV-295 with 2 x 2kw low and high frequency thru hull transducers. I’m purely running two sounders for tutorial purposes in helping people who might have one of these sounders. The new 588 certainly reads different to the old 585/587 units with the biggest difference being the new Rez boost technology. Rez Boost Digitally sharpens the image to give better target separations particularly when it’s set to enhanced mode. While fish images present smaller in size compared to the older 585 & 587 it means the echo’s have been sharpened and fish targets can be identified more easily without getting confused as bait or smaller fish. The FCV-295 sounder is simply a weapon with the 2kw transducers and I’m extremely happy with the images this unit gives.

Until next month, tight lines.